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Dr. G.
Dr. G., Veterinarian
Category: Pet
Satisfied Customers: 1248
Experience:  Exotic animal veterinarian for 16 years.
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Does my ferret have a cold, flu or respiratory infection

Customer Question

She has had a runny nose for a couple of days. She seemed congested yesterday -but not today. No rattling in her chest. She is 2 years old and 2 months. Been healthy. She's eating and drinking and using the bathroom normally. Will her runny nose run it's course or do I need to take her to a vet?
Submitted: 8 years ago.
Category: Pet
Expert:  Dr. G. replied 8 years ago.
Hi, thanks for your question.   In order to best help you, I need to ask you a few questions.

Has anyone (human) living with her had the flu recently?

Is the nasal discharge clear or have color? Both sides or just one?

Thanks, XXXXX XXXXX forward to hearing from you soon.

Dr. G
Customer: replied 8 years ago.
Hello -

I had the flu almost two weeks ago - then another family member got it.

She's eating normally, drinking water and her stools appear normal - it's just the lethargy that concerns me. I did read that can come with flu and/or respiratory infections - my concern was insulinoma - but she doesn't have any other insulinoma symptoms - so I'm hoping she'll be fine.

Eva (my ferret) seems better today - but she was a very lethargic yesterday. Her runny nose is clear - like water - like mine was. She was playful and active today - however I made an appointment with her vet because I want to know she is alright.

Thank you for gettting back to me.
Expert:  Dr. G. replied 8 years ago.

Thanks for the info. Yes, the flu signs in ferrets are very much like ours. It tends to run it's course in 5 days or so.   They can have a fever also which can cause them to be lethargic. I would make sure she continues to eat and drink well. Sometimes if her nose is a little stuffy, she may not eat as well because she can't smell the food. You may want to try and warm it up just a bit to increase the aroma.

Since her nasal discharge is clear, she probably will not need antibiotics. If the discharge becomes more 'snotty' like or discolored, she may need meds.

Insulinoma is always a concern with a weak or tired ferret.   If she is having a period of 'weakness', try to get her to eat some food. If it is insulinoma, she should perk up pretty quickly after eating.

I'm glad to hear that you are having her checked out anyway. It's always best to be safe rather than sorry. If I can answer anything else, just hit reply.

Take care,

Dr. G
Customer: replied 8 years ago.
Thank you so much.

One more question about insulinoma. IF it was that - what other symptoms would she be showing - and wouldn't she be showing them?

When she was lethargic - I had her in my bedroom where I cranked up the heat because I thought that would be good for her - so heat feeds lethargy - do I understand that? I turned the heat down and am going to keep observing her until her appointment.
Expert:  Dr. G. replied 8 years ago.

The early signs of insulinoma are often very subtle. You might notice her just kind of acting 'spacy' for periods of times, drooling or just not being as playful, not jumping up on things. The early signs often come and go and can be easily missed. As it progresses, they can have very severe signs like having seizures or coma-like. For more info see:

As for the 'heat feeding the lethargy' - just think what's its like when you have a fever. You don't feel good, you want lay down so it's more just a symptom.

I'll be offline for the night, but I'll be back on tomorow if you need anything else!